Recently I was in a meeting for work and the topic of employee wellness came up. We were asked to share the ways we partake in self-care. Everyone said similar things…run, take a bath, read…and then they came to me and I boldly announced that one of the ways I show self-care is by making time to attend therapy at least 1-2 times a month.
You could have heard a pin drop.
People quickly averted their eyes and it took an extra second before moving to the next person. While I definitely believe there’s been an improvement in the acceptance of mental health issues over the past 20 years or so, we are nowhere near where we need to be. There’s still a stigma attached and that makes me sad and angry.
Tonight I had therapy and it was a great session, which was very much needed. I didn’t make any huge realizations or figure out the meaning of life, but I word vomited all the things going on that have happened over the past week or so that have been making me crazy and upset and angry and have just completely thrown me off balance.
My therapist didn’t get to say much since I was speed talking my way through the session so I could mention everything but that’s okay. As I told her tonight, many times I just need her to listen because once I just say something, most of the time I feel at least a little bit better. So talked…and talked…and talked. I told her about how last Thursday was just an overall shitty day but what made it worse was that I was blindsided at work and told I’ll be in a different position soon (one I wasn’t ready to move to yet). Then I had an argument with my estranged husband (I don’t even know if I am using estranged right and frankly I don’t care at the moment) Friday evening while decorating Easter eggs with our kids, then I said good-bye to my childhood home where my dad also passed away in on Saturday since it just sold and then a few days later there was more arguing with the husband-ish and financial woes and HOW THE FUCK AM I STILL SOBER?!?!
How am I still sober? One day at a time. 10 minutes at a time. By doing the next right thing. By breathing. By checking in with myself.
That is something new to me, this checking in with myself, and I find it very peculiar. I’m not really sure how it started but I just noticed that I’m doing it A LOT this tough week in particular. I am so grateful that my head is clear without alcohol so that I notice when my thoughts become unhealthy – negative and driven by anger or anxiety or shame – and I ask myself, “What are you feeling and why are you feeling this way?” I acknowledge whatever I’m feeling then figure out how to make it go away. Sometimes it’s simply taking a couple deep breaths. Sometimes it’s running through the tape of, “Here’s why that is completely irrational, now move on.” Sometimes it’s writing here. Sometimes it’s just praying to whatever God is above to please, please, please just help me hold on until this passes.
Whatever the cause, whatever the case, I’m doing it. Is this what they call managing your emotions in a healthy manner? Changing your thought patterns? I’m only being half-facetious because I really don’t know. The thing is, I think most people in recovery look to replace their unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones but the truth is, I never learned healthy ones to begin with and that’s an entirely different blog post on its own. I’m learning them now.
So here I am. Sober. Breathing. Writing. Going to therapy. Reading books written by people in similar situations. Trying to navigate life in a new way, a way in which I’m in recovery not just from addiction but from everything that’s ever happened that has broken me.